The Primer: Week 13 Edition (2020 Fantasy Football)
Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers
Spread: Packers -9
Eagles vs. Packers Betting Matchup
Carson Wentz: He’s been sacked 10.9 percent of the time he drops back, which leads the NFL. The closest is Sam Darnold, who is at 9.2 percent. That’s part of the problem, but not the only problem. Wentz himself clearly needs a break because everything he/the Eagles have tried hasn’t worked this year. He hasn’t completed more than 60.0 percent of passes since way back in Week 4, and has averaged fewer than 7.0 yards per attempt in 9-of-11 games this year. The offensive line deteriorating is only going to make matters worse, though if there is a positive, it’s that the Packers have had the second-worst pass-rush in all of football. Still, Wentz has posted just an 83.5 QB Rating from a clean pocket, which is the second-worst among quarterbacks, behind only Sam Darnold. The Packers are one of just four teams who’ve still yet to allow a rushing touchdown to a quarterback, which is something that’s saved Wentz’s fantasy totals from time to time. They’ve also allowed just 113 rushing yards to them (5th-fewest), so counting on rushing totals out of Wentz wouldn’t make much sense here. On top of that, volume won’t save him, as Packers’ opponents have averaged just 60.2 offensive plays per game, the third-lowest mark in the league. The Packers have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per actual pass attempt (no rushing), so it’s not the worst matchup for efficiency, but we’ve seen Wentz fold in plus-matchups throughout the year. We need him to string together multiple good games before trusting him outside of 2QB leagues.
Aaron Rodgers: If Rodgers has proved anything over the last month, it’s that he’s matchup-proof. Despite playing against the 49ers, Colts, and Bears in three of his last four games, Rodgers has thrown for three-plus touchdowns in each of those games. He’s finished with 21.74 or more fantasy points in 9-of-11 games, including each of his last six games. If you were to remove rushing totals from all quarterbacks and just look at what they’ve done through the air, Rodgers has averaged a ridiculous 0.661 fantasy points per pass attempt, while there’s just one other quarterback (Russell Wilson) who’s averaged over 0.609 points per throw. If you’re looking for any rushing totals, the Eagles would be the team he might get some against, as they’ve allowed 334 yards on the ground to quarterbacks, which ranks as the most in the league. They have been a tough matchup for quarterbacks overall this year, allowing the 12th-fewest points per game against them, and if you were to remove those rushing totals, they’ve allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points through the air. It helps that they’ve generated a sack on 9.1 percent of dropbacks, which ranks as the third-highest mark in the NFL. Despite that, they’ve recorded a league-low three interceptions this year. The worrisome part for Rodgers is that teams have chosen to throw the ball just 53.4 percent of the time against the Eagles due to great field position and lack of competition in general. None of that has mattered to Rodgers though 12 weeks, so why should it now? Keep him rolling as a QB1.
Miles Sanders and Boston Scott: We knew that teams didn’t run the ball much against the Seahawks, but six carries? He also saw just three targets while Boston Scott saw six of them. Sanders has run just four more pass routes than Scott over the last two weeks. So, if there’s a negative gamescript, do we suddenly have to worry about Sanders’ role? In this game against the Packers, they’re nearly 10-point underdogs, which could be an issue. When Doug Pederson said he wanted this to be more of a timeshare, we figured it had to do with Jordan Howard, who is on the practice squad. Now onto the good stuff for Sanders. Of the production the Packers have allowed to running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, we’ve watched running backs account for a massive 41.3 percent of it, which is the highest percentage in football. The only other team that’s allowed more than 37.3 percent is the Lions. It’s due to success on both the ground and through the air, as they’ve allowed 4.65 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns there, and they’re not getting better. They just allowed David Montgomery to rush for 103 yards on 11 carries, which seems impossible. He was the four running back who’s topped 100 yards on the ground against them. Running backs have also been targeted 22.1 percent of the time against the Packers, which ranks as the third-highest mark in the league. It’s not just volume, either, as the 7.42 yards per target that running backs have averaged against them is head and shoulders above everyone else in the league (closest is 6.96 YPT). Because of that, running backs have averaged a league-leading 14.4 PPR points per game through the air alone against the Packers. Sanders should be able to run all over them, but that requires Doug Pederson to actually run the ball. Plug Sanders in as a low-end RB1 and hope for the best. The matchup really does allow for him to have a big week. As for Scott, he obviously benefits from a negative gamescript, but trusting him as anything more than an RB4 would likely be a mistake, as he’s seen just 20 total opportunities over the last three weeks combined (since Sanders came back to the lineup).
That’s a 60/40 timeshare. We haven’t seen Jones finish better than the RB9 in each of his last five games because he’s sharing touches. We’ve seen him finish as the RB20 or worse in three of his last four games, which is something that didn’t happen at all over hist first five games. You have to wonder if this timeshare is due to the calf injury he suffered back in Week 7. Just dial back expectations a bit, though touchdowns haven’t gone his way like they were earlier in the year. Despite the Eagles being one of the better run defenses in the league, teams have chosen to run the ball 46.6 percent of the time against them, which ranks as the third-highest rate in the league. They haven’t had much success, as the 3.37 yards per carry they’ve allowed highlights. There have been just two running backs who’ve topped 61 yards on the ground against them, though we should note that they have allowed 11 rushing touchdowns to running backs, which ranks as the fifth-most in the NFL. Through the air, running backs have only been targeted 15.2 percent of the time against the Eagles, which ranks as the second-lowest mark in the league, and why we’ve seen just three running backs top 24 receiving yards. They’ve also yet to allow a receiving touchdown to a running back. The matchup isn’t great. Even when you adjust it for schedule, it’s the 10th-worst matchup for running backs. Jones should remain in lineups as a low-end RB1 who will start finding the end zone before long. Williams is obviously the lesser part of this timeshare and should be in the high-end RB4 territory now that he’s scored at least 8.5 PPR points in 8-of-10 games this year.
Jalen Reagor, Alshon Jeffery, and Travis Fulgham: Well, this stinks. Reagor has gotten the targets we’ve expected (25 over the last four games) but production has been hard to come by. Sure, we knew Wentz was struggling but there are a lot of wide receivers who are producing with bad quarterback play, which is why it made sense for Reagor to turn things around. Jeffery didn’t have a role on the team the last few weeks, but then ran more routes than Fulgham in Week 12, though neither of them produced. After flopping against the Seahawks, we’ve reached the end of the little trust we had in all Eagles receivers. The Packers have allowed the fifth-fewest yards per target (7.61) to wide receivers this year and have only allowed 149.4 wide receiver yards per game. Their opponents have lacked overall play volume, and it really makes sense to keep the ball on the ground against them. Reagor is still in WR5 territory due to the targets he’s getting, but you’re probably better off moving on. The others are waiver wire fodder right now.
Davante Adams: After Tyreek Hill‘s monster performance, Adams is a distant second in points on the season, though he’s still averaging the most fantasy points per game. Adams hasn’t finished a game with fewer than 18.1 PPR points since way back in Week 6, highlighting his dominance. Has he met his match? The Eagles have allowed a league-low five wide receivers hit 14.5-plus PPR points against them this year, which is the number it required to finish as a top-24 wide receiver in 2019. Some will likely scoff at that considering D.K. Metcalf just torched them for 10/177/0 on Monday night football, so why wouldn’t Adams? I’m not saying he won’t, but rather it’s been a tough matchup for many, similar to the one he had last week against the Bears where he finished with a solid 6/61/1, but it wasn’t the monster WR1 performance we’ve come to expect. Here’s the part where you need to stop worrying about Adams. When you factor in the level of competition the Eagles have played, wide receivers are averaging the same number of points against them that they’ve averaged all year, which makes them the 15th-best matchup. It’s the definition of an average matchup. Adams averages 25.4 PPR points per game, so… Plug him in as a WR1 and reap the rewards. Adams played against this scheme last year, and though Darius Slay wasn’t on the team, Adams torched them for 10/180/0 despite needing to leave that game early with an injury.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: When we heard that he was dealing with an Achilles injury mid-week, it seemed like he wouldn’t play last week. He wasn’t targeted at all, so clearly, he’s playing through something. The Eagles have allowed just seven wide receivers to hit 11.2-plus PPR points against them this year, which is the lowest in the NFL. Why choose that specific point mark, Mike? Well, because that’s the average number of points it took to finish as a top-36 wide receiver in 2019. If you were to look at the last seven teams the Eagles have played and add up their WR1, WR2, WR3, and TE1 yardage, none of the teams have surpassed 206 yards. When you have Davante Adams soaking up most of the production, that’s problematic. Add in the injury Valdes-Scantling is dealing with and you have a fade.
Allen Lazard: After taking a massive hit on Sunday night against the Bears, you wondered if Lazard was going to miss some time. Surprisingly, he returned to the game and finished, so we must assume he’ll be good to go. Unfortunately, it’s not a great matchup for him. We just watched Nickell Robey-Coleman essentially remove Tyler Lockett from the game on Monday night, who happens to be the cornerback Lazard will see most of the day. Robey-Coleman hasn’t been what I’d call great this year, though it may have taken him time to adjust to his new team. The only slot-heavy receivers who’ve finished with more than 50 yards against the Eagles were Tyler Boyd, who saw 13 targets, and Cooper Kupp, who finished with five catches for 81 yards. Lazard has totaled 10 targets in two games since returning, and considering we love Adams this week, it’s tough to find the production for Lazard against a team that’s allowed just 10 top-36 wide receivers on the year. He’s stuck in the low-end WR4/high-end WR5 range.
Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert: It seems likely that Ertz will return this week, removing some of the luster around Goedert as a must-play TE1, though there has been enough room for two tight ends in this offense. Goedert and Richard Rodgers have combined for 34 targets, 25 receptions, 346 yards, and four touchdowns over the last three weeks. How is that possible with Wentz playing the way he has? Good question. All their production is being funneled through the tight ends. Similar to the matchup they had last week, the Packers have seen a tight end targeted on just 15.6 percent of passes this year, which ranks as the third-fewest in the NFL. But this is where the heavy targets of the Eagles come into play, as the Packers have allowed 8.00 yards per target to tight ends when they do get targeted, which is the seventh-most in the league. Is there a reason tight ends haven’t been targeted much against the Packers or is it just the competition they’ve played? The three big-name tight ends they’ve played have been Rob Gronkowski (5/78/1), T.J. Hockenson (4/62/0), and Hayden Hurst (4/51/0), so it wasn’t all that bad. Football Outsiders has them ranked as the 15th-toughest matchup for tight ends, so it’s not bad as long as you’re targeted. Goedert should remain in lineups as a TE1 unless he gives us a reason not to. Provided Ertz returns, he’ll be in the high-end TE2 conversation just because he comes with a bit more risk in his first game back.
Robert Tonyan: So, despite Allen Lazard being back in the lineup, Tonyan has managed to see five targets in each of the last two games. He’s turned them into 5/44/1 and 5/67/1, so it’s safe to say he’s been efficient. Because of that, he’s the No. 4 tight end on the year. Crazy year, eh? The Eagles have allowed the 12th-most points per game to tight ends, though the numbers are extremely skewed by early-year production. Over the first four weeks they allowed Logan Thomas 4/37/1, Tyler Higbee 5/54/3, and George Kittle 15/183/1, which made it seem like the matchup we dreamed of for tight ends. Since that time, they’ve allowed just 34 receptions, 273 yards, and one touchdown over their last seven games, so it’s no longer that dream matchup. They played against Evan Engram (twice), Eric Ebron, Mark Andrews, Dalton Schultz, and Austin Hooper during that stretch, so the competition wasn’t bad, either. Kittle was still the only one who topped 54 yards against them, so it’s a touchdown-dependent matchup, but playing with Rodgers does give him much better odds than most. He should remain in the low-end TE1 conversation.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Spread: Chiefs -13.5
Broncos vs. Chiefs Betting Matchup
Drew Lock: The Broncos should get back their quarterback this week, which is going to be a welcomed sight for anyone watching. Sure, he’s thrown what’s been deemed as a “bad throw” on 29.1 percent of his pass attempts this year, while just one other quarterback (Carson Wentz) with 100-plus attempts has higher than a 22.1 percent “bad throw” rate, but we’ll take that over what we saw last week. The Chiefs are big favorites in this game, which will lead many to believe Lock should score plenty of garbage time points, but the 17.8-point team-implied total isn’t great for Lock’s floor or ceiling. Here’s a crazy stat: There have been just three quarterbacks who’ve thrown more than 33 passes against the Chiefs this season. Lock was one of them back in Week 7 when he completed just 24-of-40 passes for 254 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. It needs to be mentioned that was the lone snow game of 2020 so far, which obviously affected the passing game on both sides. There’s not much good news in this matchup for Lock regardless, as the Chiefs have allowed sub-7.0 yard per attempt this season and a sub-4.5 percent touchdown-rate while pressuring the quarterback an average of 35.5 percent of dropbacks. You need a great matchup to start a quarterback who’s finished with 13.1 or less fantasy points in 6-of-8 games, and this isn’t it.
Patrick Mahomes: After Week 12, Mahomes sits just 0.18 fantasy points behind Kyler Murray as the No. 1 quarterback in fantasy football. If you were to remove the one snow game (that was against the Broncos), Mahomes has averaged 329.7 passing yards and 2.9 touchdowns per game, including 416-plus yards in two of his last four games. While Russell Wilson was the early-season MVP, Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers have to be the front runners right now. It’s pretty remarkable what the Broncos have done on defense this year considering all the injuries they’ve dealt with, as they’ve allowed just 6.61 yards per attempt, which ranks as the third-lowest mark in the NFL. The 4.02 percent touchdown-rate they’ve allowed also ranks as a top-six unit. What’s propped up their numbers to allow the 17th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks? They’ve allowed five rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks this year, which is the third-most in football, as well as 261 rushing yards (sixth-most). If you broke it down to fantasy points per actual pass attempt, the Broncos are the fifth-toughest matchup in football. It’s crazy because the last two times these teams have played, there’s been snow on the ground, though it didn’t stop Mahomes from throwing for 340 yards and two touchdowns against them the last time they came to Kansas City. Oddsmakers have put the Chiefs implied team total at 32.0 points, which is the highest on the slate, so they’re not concerned. I’ve mentioned this before, but Mahomes has had his hands on 32 of the 39 offensive touchdowns the Chiefs have scored, so when they’re projected to score four-plus touchdowns, you know Mahomes is getting at least three of them. You don’t need me to tell you to start him.
Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay: Despite just 82 carries (35th among running backs), Lindsay ranks fifth in the NFL with eight 15-plus yard runs. Those long runs account for most of his production this year. In fact, those eight runs make up 46.4 percent of his rushing yardage this year. Sadly, he looks likely to miss this game. That would put Gordon back in the driver’s seat. In the three games without Lindsay in the lineup earlier this season, Gordon had 21, 12, and 25 touches. The 12-touch game came against the Bucs, so it was understandable. If you’re looking for production against the Chiefs, the running back position is a good place to look. Of the production they’ve allowed to skill-position players, running backs have accounted for 34.9 percent of it, which ranks as the fifth-highest percentage in the league. Running backs have accumulated 27.8 touches per game against them, and those touches have netted solid fantasy production. The Chiefs rank right around the league average in efficiency against running backs, which explains why there have been nine running backs who’ve finished as the RB25 or better against them despite the negative gamescripts. Here’s a great thing for Gordon’s floor: There’s been no running back who’s totaled more than 12 touches and finished with fewer than 10 PPR points against them. Damien Harris was the only one who didn’t finish as a top-25 option in that group, but he still posted 100 yards on his 17 carries, which is hardly a bad game. Gordon himself saw 19 touches against them back in Week 7 where he finished with 80 total yards and a touchdown. If Lindsay is out of the lineup, Gordon should be considered a solid RB2 for this game who should net 15-plus touches. If Lindsay plays, I’d still prefer Gordon, but he’d be more of a high-end RB3 while Lindsay would be a risky low-end RB3. *Update* Lindsay did return to practice in a limited fashion, so he’ll be listed as questionable for this game.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell: I tried warning you about his matchup last week, and Edwards-Helaire completely bombed, finishing with a career-low 4.9 PPR points against the Bucs. When you’re seeing the workload he is, those games are going to happen. Over the last five weeks with Bell in the lineup, Edwards-Helaire has averaged 8.8 carries and 3.0 targets per game. Didn’t realize it was that low, did you? He’s averaging a great 4.58 yards per carry on the year, so that’s not the issue. This week’s matchup could be one for you to like him a bit more, though. Despite the Broncos being one of the better pass defenses in the league, the Chiefs have an implied team total of 31.3 points, which bodes extremely well for Edwards-Helaire. The Broncos lost interior lineman Mike Purcell on the first drive of Week 7. Here are their splits before/after that time:
You get the point, right? They haven’t been able to stop the run lately, and those eight touchdowns don’t even count Taysom Hill‘s two rushing touchdowns last week. Opponents have averaged 27.2 carries per game against them over that time, which should allow Edwards-Helaire to get back into the 12-15 carry range for this game, which should be enough for him to get into RB2 territory. The Broncos have allowed just 1.28 PPR points per target to running backs, which ranks as the fourth-lowest mark in the league, so don’t count on too much production there. I’d play Edwards-Helaire as a solid RB2 this week who has top-five upside in this matchup, though he needs more work. Bell hasn’t topped nine touches in a Chiefs uniform, and based on his lack of efficiency, we shouldn’t expect his touches to increase. He’s just an RB4/handcuff.
Jerry Jeudy: We’re not going to even talk about last week because it’s a game that shouldn’t have been played. Removing that game from existence, Jeudy was the WR20 from Week 8 through Week 11, so don’t forget about him just yet. Now, he does have another brutal matchup against the Chiefs in Week 13, so we have to exercise caution once again. “Teams are going to fall behind and be forced to pass!” Sure, but the Chiefs are allowing the 11th-fewest fantasy points to skill-position players despite that. On top of that, wide receivers have accounted for just 46.3 percent of that production, which ranks as the third-lowest mark in the league. Going back to the start of last year, the Chiefs have allowed just 129.9 yards per game to wide receivers, which is the best in the NFL and a problem for Jeudy, as Lock doesn’t throw a whole lot of touchdowns. Based on where he aligns, he’s going to see the most of Bashaud Breeland, who’s allowed 17-of-30 passing for just 139 yards in his coverage, though he has allowed two touchdowns. But still, that’s just 0.57 yards allowed per snap, which ranks as the fourth-lowest mark in the NFL behind only Jimmy Smith, Jalen Ramsey, and Bryce Callahan. Jeudy should be considered a low-upside WR4 option for this game.
Tim Patrick: Just like we did with Jeudy, we’re removing Week 12 from existence. Patrick has surprisingly finished as a top-36 wide receiver in six of his last eight games. Let’s play the “remove the name game” with him, shall we?
The player on the bottom is ranked as the No. 38 wide receiver in the expert consensus rankings this week while Patrick is ranked more than a dozen spots lower. That other receiver is Mike Williams. The matchup for Williams is not great this week, but neither is the matchup for Patrick. Wide receivers have accounted for just 140.9 yards per game against the Chiefs, which is the second-lowest mark in the league. There have been just nine wide receivers all year who’ve topped 50 yards against the Chiefs. Even adjusting for schedule, the Chiefs rank as the eighth-toughest matchup for wide receviers, as they’ve averaged 9.6 percent fewer fantasy points per game than their seasonal average. Patrick is right alongside Jeudy in the back-end WR4 conversation, though both lack upside in this matchup.
Tyreek Hill: Holy explosion, Batman! Hill popped off for a ridiculous 57.9 PPR points in Week 12, which was the most by a wide receiver since Jerry Rice scored 60.9 PPR points in 1995. That performance by Hill was the sixth-highest number of all-time. For those wondering, Rice also holds the record for most PPR points in a game with 65.5 of them in 1990. Hill has now been targeted a ridiculous 47 times over the last three games, and even better, it hasn’t affected his efficiency even a little bit, as he’s recorded at least nine receptions and 102 yards in each game, while scoring six times. You cannot stop what is happening right now, though the Broncos will try. The last time Hill played them in Kansas City (Week 15 last year), he caught 5-of-7 targets for 67 yards and two touchdowns. They have been so much better than anyone realizes against wide receivers this year, allowing just 7.52 yards per target, which ranks third behind only the Rams and Titans. Will the Broncos shift their cornerbacks around for this game? If not, he’ll see rookie Essang Bassey in the slot, who’s easily been the one to target in coverage, as he’s allowed 24-of-28 passing for 242 yards and a touchdown. Just play Hill everywhere, okay? With the targets he’s getting, he can post record-breaking numbers.
Sammy Watkins: He returned to the lineup successfully last week, playing 57-of-79 total snaps and seeing seven targets. They amounted to four receptions for 38 yards, so nothing to write home about, but he’s seen at least seven targets in all four games he’s played from start to finish this year. The Broncos play stations on the field, so there aren’t any shadow matchups to wonder about. They’ve been one of the more efficient defenses against receivers, allowing just 7.52 yards per target (3rd-fewest). They have allowed 13 wide receivers to finish top-36 against them, though you need to know that 10 of those wide receivers scored touchdowns. Watkins should be considered that WR4-type option you plug-in when there’s an emergency and just hope he has one of those big games. But most of the time, you’re left with something like four catches for 42 yards.
Noah Fant: Removing last week from existence, Fant has totaled in-between 35-57 yards in seven games this season. He’s also seen at least five targets in 8-of-9 games, which gives us what we want out of a tight end. If there’s someone Fant would like to impress, it’s the guy on the other sideline, who his game most resembles from the time they came into the league, as Kelce wasn’t always a great blocker. When you adjust for the schedule they’ve played, the Chiefs are the eighth-best matchup for tight ends in PPR formats, as they average 12.5 percent more fantasy points against the Chiefs than they do in non-Chiefs games. Fant only totaled 3/38/0 on seven targets against them in the first game they played this year, but he was hobbling around all game as it was his first game back from his ankle injury. The game was also played in the snow. There have been five tight ends who’ve finished with at least five catches and 48 yards against them, which should present a decent floor for Fant in a game they fall behind. The 1.87 PPR points per target the Chiefs have allowed to tight ends is more than enough to go ahead and plug him in as a mid-to-low-end TE1.
Travis Kelce: He has four 100-yard games this year. The rest of the tight ends in the NFL have combined for nine such games. I’m fairly certain he could stop playing right now and still finish with the most fantasy points among tight ends, as he has a comfy 55.7-point gap over Darren Waller with five games to go. The Broncos have allowed a massive 74.3 percent completion-rate to tight ends (4th-highest), but those receptions have gone for an average of just 9.73 yards (6th-lowest). So, are they just willing to allow the underneath stuff? That’s why we’ve seen 10 tight ends total three-plus receptions against them. Kelce only finished with 3/31/0 in their first matchup, though that game was played in the snow and the Chiefs didn’t throw the ball a whole lot. The previous time they played was in Week 15 of last year where Kelce torched them for 11/142/0, so it’s clearly not Vic Fangio’s scheme that slowed him in the first game. No tight end has topped 13.6 PPR points against the Broncos this year, so we do have to be mindful of that, especially when we know they’ve played against Kelce, Waller, Hunter Henry, Eric Ebron, Rob Gronkowski, Hayden Hurst, and Jonnu Smith. When you factor in their level of competition, they actually rank as the seventh-toughest matchup for tight ends. You’re playing Kelce every week in redraft, but it might not be worth it to pay up for him in DFS cash lineups this week.
Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers
Spread: Bills -2.5
Bills vs. 49ers Betting Matchup
Josh Allen: I mentioned that last week’s matchup for Allen was far from a walk in the park against the Chargers, though it was shocking to see Allen finish with just 24 pass attempts. It’s been a bit of feast or famine with Allen this year, as he has six games with 25-plus fantasy points, but his other five games have contained fewer than 17 fantasy points. He now goes into a matchup with a 49ers defense that is apparently starting to take shape again. Over their last two games, they’ve allowed just 33-of-54 passing for 337 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. On the year, they have allowed just 78.88 PPR points per game to their opponents. That’s quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends included. It’s the fourth-lowest number in the league, which is quite remarkable considering how many injuries they’ve dealt with. Quarterbacks have averaged just 217.6 passing yards per game against them, which ranks as the second-lowest mark in football. Then you add in Allen’s struggles with John Brown out of the lineup, and we have issues. It needs to be noted that the 49ers have allowed more rushing yards (335) to quarterbacks than all but one team in the league, though it’s also worth mentioning they’ve faced a league-high 68 rushing attempts by them. Allen has rushed at least seven times in each of his last six games, so that’s where we’re looking for production. He should be viewed as a mid-to-low-end QB1 in this game who just might disappoint for a second-straight week.
Nick Mullens: He offers no mobility and he’s thrown for 0-1 touchdowns in 5-of-6 games. He’s thrown at least 35 passes and completed at least 22 of them in each of the last three games, but again, they’ve amounted to minimal fantasy production. If there’s a matchup you potentially could consider him, this might be it. The Bills are tied for the league-high, allowing seven different quarterbacks score 18.6-plus fantasy points against them this year, which is the average it took to finish as a top-12 quarterback last year. On the surface, that’s great news, right? Well, the downside is that they’ve allowed a league-high six rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks, which has propped up the numbers. So, instead of the sixth-most fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, you’d knock them down to the 15th-worst matchup if you look at solely passing totals for each team. They’ve allowed more than two passing touchdowns just twice since the start of the 2019 season, which again, doesn’t bode well for Mullens. He’s just a serviceable back-end QB2 in Superflex leagues.
Zack Moss and Devin Singletary: The duo combined for a respectable 25 touches in Week 12, which was one of the higher marks on the season for them. Singletary looked good while finishing with 102 total yards, though he did fumble early in the fourth quarter, which has been a problem for him over his career. Moss out-snapped him 37-25 in the game, so the touches should still favor Moss, who also gets the goal-line work. The matchup this week is not good. The 49ers have faced just 24.8 running back touches per game (6th-fewest), so when you combine that with the minuscule 20.7 touches that the Bills running backs average. As a team, the Bills rank 29th in running back fantasy points. Meanwhile, the 49ers have allowed the seventh-fewest points per game to them. You don’t need to be great at math to handle this equation. Not a single running back has topped 88 yards on the ground against the 49ers, while just five running backs have found the end zone. There have been six running backs who’ve totaled 30-plus yards through the air, but there’s been just one game all year where any of the Bills running backs have totaled more than 33 receiving yards. Knowing Moss gets the goal-line touches, he is the preferred option because he could fall into the end zone, but he’s just a low-end RB3 with a low floor. Singletary can be considered a high-end RB4 who should net 10-12 touches, even if they aren’t particularly efficient.
Raheem Mostert: We don’t know the status of Tevin Coleman right now, but it’s safe to say you’re not trying to trust him, Jeff Wilson, or Jerick McKinnon in your lineup. Mostert played 29 snaps in his return to the lineup, which is pretty much in line with his season-long average, maybe a smidge less. The opportunity was there, as he totaled 16 carries and two targets, which netted just 43 yards in a tough matchup with the Rams, though he did find the end zone. Against the Bills, he should have a good shot to find the end zone, as they’ve allowed 16 rushing touchdowns on the season, which ranks third behind only the Raiders and Lions. Quarterbacks have gotten six of those touchdowns, but we know that Mullens won’t be stealing anything. On top of the Bills allowing a touchdown every 19.0 carries, they’ve allowed 4.55 yards per carry, which ranks as the ninth-highest mark in the league. The Bills are also allowing an above-average 6.06 yards per target through the air to running backs, though they’re one of just four teams left who haven’t allowed a receiving touchdown to them. The bottom line is that this matchup plays into Mostert’s strengths as a runner, and he should be in lineups as a mid-tier RB2.
Stefon Diggs: Despite John Brown being out of the lineup, as well as the Chargers top cornerback Casey Hayward, Diggs finished with just seven catches for 39 yards in Week 12. It was just the second time all year where Diggs has finished outside the top-36 wide receivers, so we can’t panic. It could be a coincidence, but both times he’s finished outside of that range have been when Brown’s been out of the lineup. The Bills are not going to be able to run the ball on the 49ers, so we should be expecting double-digit targets for Diggs in this contest. There have been five wide receivers who’ve seen that against the 49ers and here are their results:
Production can be had in this matchup. It should be noted that the 49ers did get Richard Sherman back last week, which certainly doesn’t hurt their defense. Diggs plays on both sides, though he will see Sherman the most. We don’t have a big sample of targets against Sherman this year, though he did appear to be winding down at the end of last year. The 49ers have done a good job despite all the injuries they’ve dealt with, as the 7.84 yards per target they’ve allowed to receivers ranks as the 12th-lowest number in the league. But again, if Diggs gets those targets, he’s going to perform just like the rest of those wide receivers did.
Cole Beasley: I remember the good ol’ days when we knew exactly what to expect out of Beasley. He lacked upside, but at least he gave you a floor. Suddenly, that floor is gone. He’s finished with fewer than 40 yards in three of his last four games. Meanwhile, sandwiched in between all those games are two 11-catch, 100-plus-yard performances. The matchup against the 49ers is better than it used to be in the slot, as they lost starting cornerback K’Waun Williams for what might be the year. His replacement is Jamar Taylor, a veteran cornerback who’s played for 22 percent of the teams in the NFL. Since joining the 49ers, he’s allowed 14-of-19 passing for 185 yards, though he’s still yet to allow a touchdown and has intercepted two passes. There has been just one slot-heavy wide receiver who’s posted more than 8.6 PPR points against the 49ers this year, and that was Braxton Berrios when he caught 6-of-8 targets for 59 yards and a touchdown. So, it’s not a clear-cut must-start situation for Beasley this week, but with Brown out, he should receive more targets than the four he did last week (though Allen threw just 24 passes). He’s in the high-end WR4 territory but he lacks much of a ceiling in this matchup.
Deebo Samuel: It’s safe to say he’s healthy, eh? He went against a team that hadn’t allowed a receiver more than 18.6 PPR points against them all year and delivered an 11-catch, 133-yard performance (24.3 PPR points). His average air yards per target on each target is 1.6 yards. There is no other wide receiver with a number lower than 5.1 yards (Greg Ward). They’re getting creative and manufacturing touches for him to create after the catch, which is something he’s one of the best in the league at doing. According to NFL’s NextGenStats, he should be averaging 8.4 yards after the catch based on where defenders have been in proximity to him, but he’s managed to average 13.0 per reception. The 4.6-yard difference is the highest in the NFL, slightly topping A.J. Brown‘s 4.1-yard gap. Of the fantasy production the Bills have allowed to skill-position players, wide receivers have accounted for just 45.7 percent of it, which ranks as the third-lowest mark in the league. But again, the Rams were even better than that. Tre’Davious White is their shadow cornerback, though he doesn’t go into the slot, which is where Samuel is placed 34 percent of the time. Taron Johnson is the slot cornerback who’s allowed 45-of-59 passing for 462 yards. There’s only one cornerback who’s allowed more slot yardage than him (Buster Skrine). It’s also worth noting that 44 percent of the yardage Johnson has allowed in coverage has come after the catch. Samuel should be in lineups as a WR3 until we’re given reason not to trust him.
Brandon Aiyuk: The 49ers should get Aiyuk back to the lineup this week, though it’s important to monitor the situation throughout the week. The last three times we saw Aiyuk on the field, he was torching defenses for at least six catches and 75 yards in each game, including a touchdown in two of them. He also saw 24 targets over the last two games, but there’s an important detail that cannot be ignored in there, and it’s that Deebo Samuel was out for both those games. Samuel hasn’t seen more than seven targets in any game Samuel has played in, so keep that in mind when setting expectations. The Bills have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers this year, a number that’s been going down as the weeks go on. Last week, we saw them hold the duo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams to just seven receptions, 66 yards, and one touchdown on 15 targets. There’s also the possibility of Tre’Davious White shadowing Aiyuk considering how much Samuel moves around, though they could just choose to play sides. Whatever the case, it hurst Aiyuk’s projection that he doesn’t go into the slot more than 20 percent of the time, as that’s where they’ve struggled the most. With Samuel back in the lineup, Aiyuk moves back into the high-end WR4 territory.
Dawson Knox: You shouldn’t be considering him to begin with, but knowing the 49ers have allowed just 31.9 yards per game to the tight end position, the second-fewest in the league, you can sleep easy knowing you didn’t play him.
Jordan Reed: I don’t know if there were just miscommunications between Reed and Mullens last week, but three of his six catches weren’t even close. Reed does look good out there and they’re lining him up all over the place. Seeing six targets is a very good thing, and that’s a number he’s hit in 4-of-5 games without George Kittle in the lineup. Reed was coming off a matchup against the Rams, who’d seen the highest percentage of tight end targets, and now he’ll go against the Bills, who’ve seen the third-highest percentage of team targets. Of the production they’ve allowed to skill-position players, tight ends have accounted for 20.8 percent of it, which is the second-highest mark in the league. They’ve allowed 6.0 tight end receptions per game, which is the most in the NFL, while the 64.5 yards per game they’ve allowed is behind only the Bengals. There have been three tight ends who’ve been able to crack the 20-point PPR barrier against the Bills and another two who finished with 13.7-plus points. Even breaking it down to adjusted opponent rank (factors in the competition they’ve played this year), they rank as the third-best matchup for tight ends, as they’ve averaged 22.7 percent more PPR points against them than they do against their season average. Reed should be considered a TE1 this week.